Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good Radical styling (pumped out wheel guards and the futuristic cab-forward design) pushes the boundary for conventional SUV styling. The laid-back windscreen brings an almost sports-car feel to the cabin. The mid-life facelift in late 2009 brings extra body rigidity to an already impressive chassis.
Not so good The coupe-like styling minimises front row headroom, and the rising waistline decreases rear side visibility for the kids in the back...
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Funky driver's environment with the thick three-spoked steering wheel and the three large circular instrument housings. The front seats are comfortable (as are the rear) and set low enough so you feel that you’re ‘sitting in, not on’ - unlike a number of competitors. In the luxury variant the CX-7 is a very classy affair inside.
Not so good With the coupe-like styling, the taller people amongst us should check that the headroom is sufficient! The steering adjusts for tilt but not reach - which we always think is valuable when buying a vehicle that you may have to do expended periods of driving in. Rear seat passengers aren’t provided with enough storage options and the rising high waist rear door design reduces external side vision for kids.
Performance

Performance

Good 6-speed auto is a great match for the 2.3L Petrol Turbo engine (and helps keep turbo lag to a minimum). The Turbo Petrol engine is a modified version of the engine fitted to the speedy Mazda 3 MPS' - the modification's offer improved mid-range torque better suited to the characteristics of an SUV...
Not so good Unfortunately the sporty 2.3L Petrol Turbo engine doesn’t sound all that sporty. Whilst it may be quick for an SUV we’d bet that Subaru’s Turbocharged Forester XT is quicker (but that's probably due to the difference in vehicle weight) - so try a few if you want a sporty SUV.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good The excellent on-road dynamics are comparable to a very good handling car, not another SUV! It holds its line through corners impressively and the steering inspires confidence as it is well-weighted and has a low number of turns lock to lock. The CX-7 loves the tarmac and isn’t afraid of relatively smooth gravel roads (actually it can be a bit of a hoot on dirt). The entry-level classic offers the best 'ride versus handling' trade-off, thanks in part to smaller 17-inch alloys.
Not so good The AWD grade's ride is on the firm side so at low speeds bumps and tram tracks are felt more than in softer suspension offerings. The Turbo Diesel’s steering is less impressive (blame the electro-hydraulic system for this grade) for keen drivers as it has a less-natural feeling.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Scores a very safe rating in crash testing. The entry-level front-wheel drive 2.5L Petrol grade is smart buying when considering the significantly lower price compared to the 2.3L Turbo Petrol.
Not so good Unfortunately, the direct-injection 2.3L Turbo Petrol engine is pretty thirsty - choose the Turbo Diesel grade if fuel consumption is a buying factor (beware though, there's no auto option should you choose the Turbo Diesel). The space saver spare tyre limits outback touring ability, and with no low-range gearbox the CX-7 is no 'rock hopper'.